Category Archives: Agriculture

Our bees made it through the worst of the winter (so far!). We had the longest below-freezing period on record for North Carolina, with night-time temps down to -4º one evening. Would the bees survive? We can’t open the hives to check as that would let in cold air.

Bees do not hibernate in winter. Instead, when the temp inside the hive drops to between 54º and 57º they form a bee cluster, and vibrate their flight muscles to generate warmth. That cluster moves around the inside of the hive eating reserve honey stores for food energy. At the center of the cluster it stays a balmy 92º!

Yesterday, the cold spell broke and went up to almost 60º outside, and all four of the hives showed they survived and were out foraging for water and food. Great news!

Wood – keep it covered

2017 wood

Yesterday we stacked almost a cord of freshly cut and split hardwood.

I had read in a homesteading book that it makes no difference whether stacked wood is covered from the weather, or just left stacked to air out without a cover.

That’s wrong. We have three wood stacks – that which was split in 2015, split in 2016, and now in 2017. The 2015 stack was covered across the top with a tarp and is in great shape: dry, and burns very well. The 2016 I left uncovered. Autumn leaves have blown in and rotted in the fall rains, and started to rot the wood. Lots of mushrooms growing on the wood, along with decomposed bark and leaves, and wet wood.

So, after unstacking, cleaning out the debris, and restacking, I think it will get a tarp just like the rest of the wood.


Fall garlic plantingMid-October is the time to plant garlic here in the mid-Atlantic. I purchased a half pound of mixed soft-neck garlic. Garlic from a seed supply store comes in large bulbs. You break apart the bulb into smaller cloves, and plant the cloves about 2 inches deep with the pointy end up, then cover with soft soil. In the picture I haven’t covered the cloves yet. This batch will grow all winter and spring, and be ready for harvesting sometime around early August next year.

Garlic is easy to grow  – try it!

Katydid’s last song


We were walking out to make sure our culverts were clear, preparing for a potential storm this weekend, when we heard a katydid, or cicada, call from the ground. Walking over we saw this guy seeming to call out his last buzz of the summer, winding down after serenading us most of August. I didn’t realize they were quite so colorful.

Anyway, he buzzed a few times, then seemed to stop. We figured he had moved on to that great locust tree in the sky, a good omen for cooler autumn weather.

Then the dog came by and ate him.

Gorgeous garden spider

Garden Spider

I about bumped into this lady in the garden today, and scared both of us!

This female garden spider was about 2 inches long claw-to-claw. Garden spiders produce a venom that is harmless to humans but immobilizes insects that are caught in her web. The zig-zaggy web below her is called a stabilimentum. The purpose is not known, but some suspect it is a warning to birds not to fly into the web.

She may or may not be in the same place tomorrow. These spiders have been known to eat their web at the end of the day, and re-spin it the next day.

Isn’t it a fascinating world?


Snail colony?

I’m not sure what is going on here. We walked up to the barn a couple mornings ago and saw this patch of tall grass with dozens of small snails clinging to the blades. Feeding? Escaping something? Looking for love in all the wrong places?